Smurf1-mediated Axin ubiquitination requires Smurf1 C2 domain and is cell-cycle dependent [Cell Biology]

April 3rd, 2014 by Fei, C., He, X., Xie, S., Miao, H., Zhou, Z., Li, L.

Previously, Smad ubiquitination regulatory factor 1 (Smurf1) - mediated Lys29 (K29) - linked poly-ubiquitination of Axin has been identified as a novel regulatory process in Wnt/β-catenin signaling. In this work, we discovered that the C2 domain of Smurf1 is critical for targeting Axin for ubiquitination. We found that the C2 domain-mediated plasma membrane localization of Smurf1 is required for Axin ubiquitination, and interfering with that disturbs the co-localization of Smurf1 and Axin around the plasma membrane. Moreover, the C2 domain of Smurf1, rather than its WW domains, is involved in Smurf1's interaction with Axin; and the putative PPXY motifs (PY motif) of Axin are not essential for such an interaction, indicating that Smurf1 binds to Axin in a non-canonical way independent of WW-PY interaction. Further, we found that Smurf1-Axin interaction and Axin ubiquitination are attenuated in the G2/M phase of cell cycle, contributing to an increased cell response to Wnt stimulation at that stage. Collectively, we uncovered a dual role of Smurf1 C2 domain - recruiting Smurf1 to membrane for accessing Axin and mediating its interaction with Axin - and that Smurf1-mediated Axin ubiquitination is subjected to the regulation of cell cycle.